ALASKA – High Times, Low Tide, and Wild Life in Turnagain Arm

Mountain Vistas, Sweeping Inlets, and Alaskan Animals

Turnagain Arm is a narrow branch of Cook Inlet, in the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska. It received its name when Captain Cook went down that way, sure he had found the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans. He was wrong, and had to turn back again.

Tides are extreme in Turnagain Arm. The day we touristed there it was mostly low tide.

Here are two maps to orient you to Turnagain Arm’s location just south of Anchorage.

Ed, to the right, and his sister Shonti.

A Dall Sheep on top of a mountain…

Zooming back from the Dall Sheep …

… zooming back …

… back to from where I took the pictures of the sheep.

Low Tide shimmering in Turnagain Arm

Looking past the far end, cloud covering appears to be constant over Portage Glacier.

In the middle of Turnagain Arm, and just a short jaunt up north, you can take the tram up Mount Alyeska, a popular ski resort.

This snow is still on the ground in late May.

Turnagain Arm as viewed from atop Mount Alyeska

I asked Ed to sit there like that for this shot.

Before we got to the live animals at the Alaska Wildlife Conversation Center, we viewed some stuffed specimens at the Alyeska Resort Hotel.

Our next stop, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, allowed many close observations of living Alaskan wildlife. Shonti planned for us to go after our visit to Denali, in case we did not see much wildlife there – of course we were rather spoiled with wildlife encounters in Denali.

The center did provide some animals we didn’t see in Denali, like this wolf:

This bald eagle had lost his left wing after being shot by (which is illegal, of course) and now it resides at the center.

Two coyote siblings

Two foxes

Signs told us about the animals, and, in many cases, how they came to reside at the center. The coyotes and the foxes were all found (separately) as abandoned pups.


Musk Ox with calf



Ed caught the Lynx in repose. When I tried, it was playfully gamboling about and toying with a cereal box. These were the best action shots I could manage, as it never stood still for long.

Another bison calf with its elders

A black bear was supposedly in this cave, but I could barely see it.

When I took this photo, all I could see through the viewfinder was the raven in front of a dark cave.

Even when I took this picture, at the time I could only see a paw. Only after uploading the photos onto my laptop did I see just how much of the bear showed up in these pictures.

This grizzly was more accommodatingly out in the open.

The bear was being playful with half a tree…



At the far end of the conservation center we got more great views of Turnagain Arm at low tide.

The brisk inlet wind blew my hat off just as I was taking this picture.


Back to the bison

A mother and her calf, suckling

Elk on a lunch date

Another black bear

There Beluga whales of the Cook Inlet are a nonmigratory, separate sub-population that is listed as “critically endangered”. We didn’t see any in the waters today, so we settled for the statues of Belugas at Bird Point park.

What Ed will do out of love for me…

By the time we left later that day the tide was coming in.

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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